On the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, President Russell M. Nelson stood in the annex of the Salt Lake Temple as the newest ordained President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and announced his counselors in the First Presidency — President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring.
Prior to that call, President Eyring had served as second counselor to President Gordon B. Hinckley and then as first counselor to President Thomas S. Monson. President Nelson called that service “magnificent” and described President Eyring — and President Monson’s other counselor, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf — as “totally capable, devoted and inspired.”
Having served for 22 years in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles alongside President Nelson and President Oaks, President Eyring called it a special joy “to be at the side of these great men, whom I so love and admire.”
President Eyring also rejoiced at his continued opportunity “to give my full efforts to bear witness of Jesus Christ and proclaim the truth of His restored gospel.”
In the last three years serving in the First Presidency, President Eyring has continued to serve faithfully “at the side” of President Nelson and President Oaks in teaching and testifying of the Savior Jesus Christ and the restoration of His gospel and has shared special, timely counsel with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Unity in the Church
Soon after being sustained to the First Presidency, President Eyring rededicated the Jordan River Utah Temple on May 20, 2018. As he gave the rededicatory prayer, he quoted extensively from President Spencer W. Kimball’s Nov. 16, 1981, prayer, underscoring the importance of unity and the need for righteous leadership throughout the world.
The unity in the Church comes at a time of organizational change and ministerial emphasis, President Eyring said at the rededication. “If you go through heavy times and lots of change, it’s not going to be easy to keep everybody feeling united, and I think we’re in such a time. We’re moving at a great rate.”
He added: “We’re living in a time of an incredible prophet of God, and we all need to pray so we can be united, so we can move along wherever the Lord is going to take us.”
His words proved prophetic as roughly two years later the Church and its members experienced unprecedented change during a global pandemic and civil unrest. Amid the upheaval, President Eyring spoke of a similar need for unity as he addressed the women of the Church in the 190th Semiannual General Conference in April of this year.
Heavenly Father’s “beloved daughters” have a crucial role in the establishment of Zion, a people who are “of one heart and one mind,” President Eyring said.
“My experience has taught me that Heavenly Father’s daughters have a gift to allay contention and to promote righteousness with their love of God and with the love of God they engender in those they serve,” he said.
Faith in Jesus Christ and the full effects of His infinite Atonement will qualify the women of the Church — and those they love and serve — ”for the supernal gift to live in that sociality of a long-looked-for and promised Zion.”
Happiness in the home
On Sept. 15 and 16, 2018, President Eyring joined President Nelson as he spoke in devotionals in Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, British Columbia. In addressing Saints from the greater Vancouver area, President Eyring spoke of how to build happiness in the home.
“The promised blessing from the baptismal covenant holds marriages and families together in a bond of love,” he said. “Always remembering the Savior and keeping His commandments is the path to marital love and family happiness.”
President Eyring testified that “the covenant path in the Church of Jesus Christ is the way to happiness in this life and joy in eternal life forever.”
During the 189th Annual General Conference held on April 5-6, 2019, President Eyring spoke of how families can create a home where the Spirit can dwell. “Building faith in Jesus Christ is the beginning of reversing any spiritual decline in your family and in your home. That faith is more likely to bring repentance than your preaching against each symptom of spiritual decline,” he said.
In his remarks during general conference the following October, President Eyring promised that all who seek to have lasting happiness can find it through the gospel of Jesus Christ and the eternal plan of salvation.
“Only by faith in Jesus Christ, continuing repentance, and keeping covenants are we able to claim the lasting happiness we yearn to experience and retain,” President Eyring said.
Some may wonder, “Why do I not feel the peace and happiness promised to those who have been faithful? I have been faithful through terrible adversity, but I don’t feel happiness.”
In such instances, it is important to remember that change does not merely come by asking for it, he said. “Greater holiness … will come by doing what is needed for God to change us,” and that often means through times of adversity.
Facing trials with faith
In the October 2018 general conference, he spoke of an experience he had with his wife, Sister Kathy Eyring. Over a lifetime, Sister Eyring has spoken for the Lord and served many people for Him, he said. Now she can only speak a few words. Every night and morning he sings hymns and prays with her. Once after singing the words “Love one another as Jesus loves you. Try to show kindness in all that you do,” his wife said softly “Try, try, try.”
“I think that she will find, when she sees Him, that our Savior has put His name into her heart and that she has become like Him. He is carrying her through her troubles now, as He will carry you through yours,” President Eyring promised.
Six months after the COVID-19 pandemic limited religious observance globally, President Eyring and the other members in the First Presidency in an interview with the Church News reaffirmed that the answer to conflict is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The “crucial thing,” he said, is to “connect with God” — to have the feeling that “God is walking with you. It is a feeling of trusting in the Lord, that He is watching over you. … The only way to deal with fear is faith.”
During the special bicentennial celebration of the Restoration, President Eyring told Church members to follow the example of Joseph Smith in offering prayers of faith during times of trial.
“Throughout his prophetic ministry, Joseph Smith used prayers of faith to obtain continuous revelation. As we face today’s challenges and those yet to come, we too will need to practice the same pattern,” he said.
President Eyring then explained during the last general conference in October that God’s purpose in the Creation of this world was “to give His children the opportunity to prove themselves able and willing to choose the right when it is hard.”
Considering the trials and difficulties of this life, some may wonder why a loving God allows the mortal test to be so hard.
Unshakable faith in the Savior is required to change one’s nature and become more like God, President Eyring explained.
Hope for the future
During the telecast where he addressed the world for the first time in the newly formed First Presidency, President Eyring spoke of it being a great time in the history of the Church.
“Prophets in the past have said that the best is yet to come, and it proved true,” he said. “That is so because it is the Lord who leads His Church. He watches over all of His Father’s children in the world and He qualifies and calls His servants to lead, inviting God’s children to come home in heaven to Him.”
That was a sentiment he echoed later as he and Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles met with Maryland’s governor on Nov. 15, 2019, and spoke at the Charlotte Leadership Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Nov. 16, 2019.
And the work of salvation continues, he promised. “It’s going to get better. That’s what we mean by continuing revelation. You know things are going to improve.”
President Eyring said his apostolic charge to take the gospel to the world is joyful work.
“This is an opportunity that I could not have imagined I’d ever have,” he said. “I don’t feel it’s a duty. It’s a privilege. I think all of my Brethren feel the same way. It’s a blessing — not an obligation.”